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Exploring Portland: My Favorite Landmarks & Travel Necessities

This weekend I’m happier than Michael Jackson at a Harry Potter book signing (inappropriate?) because I’m spending the next few days in Portland, Oregon with my mom. It’s mostly a business trip for her, but I’ve wanted to visit the Northwest for so long that when she invited me along, I didn’t even have to consider it.

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Among the things I’m hoping to do and/or see: the city itself (duh), the Willamette River, VooDoo Donut Shop, some semblance of wine country, eight coffee shops on each block, and someone with dreadlocks.

Among the things I’m hoping to avoid: rain, foot blisters, fanny packs.

I’ve already had three different people approach me today to ask for directions. Had to tell them this was my first time here and I had no idea how to help. I must look like an Oregonian (it’s probably the cargo pants).

True Oregonians are exceedingly friendly, though. Not the slow, easy, languid kindness you get in the South, but peppy, chipper, let’s fly to the moon enthusiasm that makes you wonder if something’s in the water. But it’s probably just the really strong coffee.

On Running Less, Writing More, and Exploring Portland | The Blissful Poet
Wine! Cheese! Lots of grapes! Surprisingly sober women!

After yesterday’s excursion to four different wineries in the Dundee Hills region of the Willamette Valley (“It’s Will-AM-it, dammit!”) enjoying Manchego, Brie, apricots, chocolate truffles, and so many kinds of Pinot Noir I lost count, I was thankful for today’s earthier fare: coffee. I finally ventured downtown on the MAX light rail after a substantial amount of Googling and two trips back to the room to make sure I had all the essentials. (I’m still practicing this whole “I’m a grown up” thing. I’m not really there yet.)

I wound up at the mouth of Portland’s famous Voodoo Doughnut establishment. We haven’t had a chance to go in yet, but tomorrow we will undoubtedly partake in the sugary, obscene goodness because, well, donuts.

So instead I’m spending some time at Stumptown Coffee Roasters, which is sort of Portland’s answer to Starbucks. It’s one of those places where they like to top your latte with a beautiful steamed milk fern (or is it a heart?) and as it’s such a “green” city, even the designer coffee drinks taste healthier. Did they slip some soy milk in here without telling me? (I’m okay with it.)


I feel very writerly as I sit here with my notebook and eco-friendly coffee cup, soaking in the laughter and conversation, watching people stream into the warm shop in steady numbers.

I left everything else behind–my kindle, my laptop, my charger–on purpose: today is not for emailing, pinning, or updating my status. But I am surrounded by others who jab repeatedly at their tablets and phones. I’m not sure if forcing myself to write by removing all other distractions counts as motivation or deceit, but all I have is my notebook. Sometimes it’s much better that way.

Sometimes writing in a notebook feels regressive. This world is all about speed, hustle, and progress. When did it become more important for us to be productive instead of present? As discouraging as it can be, I try to keep in mind that progress happens naturally when I do what I love, regardless of my pace. So I’ll keep writing. Today, it’s in my notebook.

My favorite travel notebook is the Moleskine Volant Notebook. It’s subtle, sturdy, and easy to slip into even my smallest bags. Although writing in my miniature notebook does kind of make me feel like a beat poet minus the turtleneck. Nothing wrong with that.

Here are a few more of my favorite travel essentials:

Sharpie Fine Point Pens. My husband, who obviously knows me well, bought me a set for Christmas. They’re so fantastic they get their own place on my desk. I don’t let them mingle with the common pens.

Kindle Touch. I’m a paperback girl at my core, but shoving five books in my carry-on doesn’t make as much sense as loading them onto my Kindle. As long as don’t forget my charger (or rage ensues…).

Essentials Clutch. You might think you want a giant bag as you’re wandering a new city. But trust me, you don’t. Not unless you want your shoulders to hurt as much as your feet. Speaking of which…

Comfortable shoes. I like cute outfits as much as the next girl, but you won’t care how well your shoes match your purse (jacket, earrings, whatever) when your feet are screaming at you to please, for the love of God, sit down.

(Side note: Turns out Johnny Depp has a day job. He’s actually a clean-shaven barista at Stumptown Coffee Roasters on SW 3rd Avenue in Portland.)

What about you? Are you happy right where you are? Or do you feel the constant push to move toward something greater? Let me know in the comments!



  1. Uncle Kelly

    And don’t forget “Tell me something that you have failed at”, what kind of an interview questions is that? Love, Uncle Kelly

  2. missmeghanbliss

    Yep, that’s definitely one of the worst.

Let me know what you think.